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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Iraq - the Mysterious Affair

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 002635

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - IRAQ - THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR
AT MADAEN
PARIS - TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2005


(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

IRAQ - THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT MADAEN

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

THE QUARREL BETWEEN PRIME MINISTER RAFFARIN AND INTERIOR
MINISTER DE VILLEPIN, WHO IS SAID TO BE MANEUVERING FOR THE
POSITION OF PRIME MINISTER AFTER AN ANTICIPATED, POST-
REFERENDUM CABINET RE-SHUFFLE, IS TODAY'S MAJOR FRONT-PAGE
STORY. LEFT-OF-CENTER LIBERATION HEADLINES "MAY THE WORST MAN
WIN" OVER A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE TWO PLAYERS. FOR POPULAR RIGHT-
OF-CENTER FRANCE SOIR, IT IS "PANIC AT THE SUMMIT" WHILE LE
PARISIEN TITLES "THE CLASH." RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO
HEADLINES "THE DE VILLEPIN-RAFFARIN BATTLE" AS IT PUBLISHES
THE LATEST POLL ON VOTER INTENTION FOR THE REFERENDUM, WHICH
SHOWS ONCE AGAIN THAT THE `NO' IS AHEAD, WITH 55 PERCENT OF
VOTER INTENTION; THE `YES' GETS 45 PERCENT. LEFT-OF-CENTER LE
MONDE HEADLINES: "THE PERSISTING `NO' INCREASES PRESSURE ON
CHIRAC." EDITORIALS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY DEVOTED TO THE
GOVERNMENT CONTROVERSY AND THE REFERENDUM.

CATHOLIC LA CROIX CARRIES AN INTERVIEW WITH FM BARNIER: "ON
MAY 29, VOTERS MUST VOTE SOLELY ON THE CONSTITUTION. WHEN IT
COMES TO TURKEY'S MEMBERSHIP FOR EXAMPLE, THE QUESTION WILL BE
DEALT WITH IN FIFTEEN YEARS FROM NOW OR MORE, AND FRENCH
CITIZENS WILL GIVE THEIR OPINION THROUGH A REFERENDUM. IF THE
`NO' WINS, THOSE WHO ARE DREAMING OF A FREE TRADE ZONE/EUROPE,
OF A EUROPE/SUPERMARKET, WILL HAVE WON. THE PROJECT FOR A
POLITICAL EUROPE WILL BE STALLED AND FRANCE'S INFLUENCE WILL
BE REDUCED. WE MUST BE WATCHFUL OF THE WORLD AROUND US. I DO
NOT WANT THE FUTURE OF MY COUNTRY TO BE DETERMINED ON WALL
STREET AND UNDONE IN BEIJING."

TODAY'S MAJOR INTERNATIONAL STORY REVOLVES AROUND CHINA AND
JAPAN. LEFT-OF-CENTER LIBERATION INTERVIEWS CHINA EXPERT
VALERIE NIQUET ON THE REASONS BEHIND CHINA'S GROWING ANGER
AGAINST JAPAN: "BEHIND CHINA'S ANGER WE MUST SEE THE FACT THAT
BEIJING DOES NOT WANT JAPAN TO HAVE A PERMANENT SEAT AT THE
UNSC. THE REFORM HAS BEEN UNDER DISCUSSION FOR THE PAST TEN
YEARS. BUT IT SEEMED THAT A RESOLUTION WAS NEAR AND JAPAN HAD
A CHANCE FOR A PERMANENT SEAT. CHINA WANTS TO SAFEGUARD ITS
POSITION OF INFLUENCE ON THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE, AND IN ASIA
IN PARTICULAR."

RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO INTERVIEWS ISRAELI DEPUTY PRIME
MINISTER SHIMON PERES: "THE FUTURE LIES WITH THE ROADMAP. BUT
BEFORE WE CAN BEGIN TO IMPLEMENT IT, THE ISSUE OF TERRORISM
MUST BE RESOLVED. I BELIEVE WE NEED TO HELP MAHMOUD ABBAS EVEN
MORE, AND WE WILL DO THAT. ALL THOSE WHO WANT PEACE MUST HELP
HIM. AS LONG AS HAMAS BEARS ARMS, IT WILL BE OUT OF THE
QUESTION TO NEGOTIATE WITH THEM."

THE MYSTERIOUS HOSTAGE-TAKING INCIDENT IN MADAEN IS RELATED IN
LIBERATION AND FRANCE SOIR. BOTH OUTLETS SUGGEST THERE MAY
HAVE BEEN MANIPULATION BEHIND THE STORY TO FOMENT DISAGREEMENT
BETWEEN THE SUNNI AND SHIITE COMMUNITIES. (SEE PART C)

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

IRAQ - THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT MADAEN

"A HOSTAGE SITUATION WITHOUT HOSTAGES"
SACHA BALIT VANDERBROUCK IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER FRANCE SOIR
(04/19): "THE OUTCOME OF THE IMAGINARY HOSTAGE TAKING
SITUATION IS AN INDICATION OF THE EXTREME TENSION ON THE
GROUND. THE FACT THAT OVER EIGHTY PEOPLE COULD POSSIBLY HAVE
BEEN KIDNAPPED AT ONCE CAME AS NO SURPRISE, AND THE OVERLOAD
IN RUMORS AS WELL AS IN DISINFORMATION ARE FEEDING INTO
GROWING SUSPICION BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES. THE
QUESTION REALLY IS `WHO IS PULLING THE STRINGS?' THE SHIITES
ARE SCREAMING `SCANDAL' WHILE THE SUNNIS TALK OF MANIPULATION.
WHAT IS CERTAIN IS THAT NO ONE CAN SEE CLEARLY. BUT THE CHOICE
OF MADAEN IS NO COINCIDENCE: BECAUSE IT HAS A MIXED POPULATION
OF SHIITES AND SUNNIS, IT IS THE IDEAL PLACE TO IGNITE A FIRST
FIRE THAT CAN SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY." WOLFF

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